Saturday, October 24, 2009
I Heart Uwe Boll. Frickin' Sue Me.
Hollywood routinely excretes movies much worse than Boll's; generic, faceless, focus-grouped-to-death pieces of product slicker than the proverbial duck's ass but utterly bereft of personality. I'll assert that workmanlike hacks like Michael Bay and Brett Ratner deserve way more derision than the notorious German director ever will.
This supposition is based on a simple litmus test: Uwe Boll's movies entertain the hell out of me. Are they polished? Nope. Subtle? Uh-uh. Are they fun? Hells, yes.
Boll stands out amongst the Bays and Ratners of today not because he makes films for less money, but because he belongs in another era, alongside B-movie directors like Al Adamson and Ed Wood. Like those two filmmakers, the Teutonic titan makes lowbrow movies from his own gut, movies that--absurd and cheap as they sometimes are--possess a distinctive personality and a loopy energy all their own. I've fallen asleep during Bay and Ratner epics, but never during an Uwe Boll movie.
Indiana Jones movie.
In Alone in the Dark Christian Slater plays Edward Carnby, a paranormal investigator trying to figure out why there's a big blank spot in his memories as a child in an orphanage. So what's up? The central threat revolves around about how he and his fellow orphans were infected by monstrous parasites that turn everybody into testy super-strong zombies two decades later; and Native American magic; and computer-generated, quadrupedal faux-Alien monsters that've been unleashed by that Native American mojo, I guess.
Truth be told, the plot's immaterial: Boll pragmatically uses the convoluted storyline as a coat rack upon which he drapes a few of his favorite things. Inside of ten minutes, there's a random car crash and a big fight between Carnby and a chrome-domed parasite infectee (the latter ends up impaled on a stray piece of metal jutting from a fish cart). Soon, a CGI alien-rhino thing eats a security guard in a museum. Then a squadron of secret government soldiers burst into the meal site (a museum) and the monster makes short work of them, too.
Boll totally trims all of the fat, gouging pieces of plot and continuity meat away in the process: The soldiers are part of a covert paranormal agency that used to employ Carnby, a plot element summarized in one concise sentence. We never see Carnby actually investigate anything aside from his own past; and the fact that he lives in a spiffy gothic-tinged loft and wears a wardrobe adapted by a lot of the movie's target nerd demographic (Matrix leather coat and wife-beater) does nothing to illuminate his character: Again, it's all about the cool things. I, for one, got a kick out of Boll's refreshingly direct approach: After all, why putz around with characterization and plot advancement when there are skulls to be split, mass firearms to be discharged, and enough monsters to make your head explode?
Like a good lunkheaded hard-rock band, Boll steals from the best--a pinch of X-Files here, a dash of Aliens there, one cup of The Relic, four heaping tablespoons of The Matrix stirred in--with a childlike enthusiasm that's easy to get caught up in, if you just go with it.
No, neither of these movies is even close to being what conventional wags'd call good. But they entertained the hell outta me. And you could argue a stronger case for the auteur theory with Boll than with Michael Bay or Brett Ratner. Both Alone in the Dark and Bloodrayne incorporate buried childhood memories as key plot elements, and Boll's enthusiasm for bloodletting provides a colorful aesthetic thread through these two films. His coda at Bloodrayne's end is a highlights reel of all of the meatiest, bloodiest, spurtiest death scenes from the preceding ninety minutes. Thank God the man's got his priorities straight.